Since more people have more time to read now, the editor and some contributors have a few readings to recommend…books inspired by the theme of the issue, great choices that will keep you entertained and informed!
Picked by Lorette Luzajic: , by Margaret Mitchell (1936). One of the world’s best selling novels of all time has fallen out of favour in recent years. As a product of another era, the modern reader finds the racism and sexism disturbing. Some academics and other writers have put down the Pulitzer Prize winning book, including Ray Bradbury, who revealed his own misogynist bias by dismissing it as women’s fiction. But the epic saga of the south is a must read. While the heroine, Scarlett, is a plantation owner’s daughter with her own slaves, the story is not an endorsement of the institution by any stretch. The pampered girl loses land, status, riches, free labour, and a husband while still a teenager. She risks everything to care for her family and community, black and white, through the terrors of civil war, a war she wants no part of. She ends up sewing clothing from old curtains, helping her rival give birth without a doctor, and rationing coffee grinds and cotton she ends up picking herself. She is a complex character, selfish and vain as she is headstrong and resourceful. The infamous love story at its core is not a typical romance, either- it’s more of a love triangle, and she never does see past herself to recognize that love is about more than what you can get. And the war at the centre of this story was the biggest risk of all: men who went to their deaths willingly to abolish an institution, slavery, that they saw as inhumane and morally repugnant, even as people like Scarlett fought tooth and nail to keep a way of life they’d grown too used to. Gone with the Wind
By Hedy Habra: Tea in Heliopolis (Press 53 2013) “The poems of Tea in Heliopolis form the story of a family, sometimes tragic, sometimes searingly beautiful, and always exotic, seen through the eyes of a painter…the chronicle captures the bravery it takes to remember and yet experience a beauty transcendent to pain. This is a remarkable book of poetry.” –Diane Wakowski
Poetry Collection by Hedy Habra: The Taste of the Earth (Press 53 2019) “The Taste of the Earth contains numerous histories—from Egypt’s distant past to the Lebanese Civil War to the Arab Spring—though history is not “the straight line that accompanies silence.” These poems confess that image can hide the smell of blood and the smell of jasmine, both the terrible and the sweet in the story of a place…” –Tracy Brimhall
Poetry Collection by Christine Murray: Bind This collection represents a journey through stasis and back into nature, it is very simple. The journey can be a grief, or binding of some sort.
Chapbook by Christine Murray, A Hierarchy of Halls (2018) The author has generously provided this link to download it for free
Suggested by Trayle Kushan: Here’s a The Souls of Black Folk, by WEB Dubois. (free) audiobook, from Amazon to your kindle: https://www.amazon.com/The-Souls-of-Black-Folk/dp/B0047Z4F2I It is wonderfully read, exposing the lyricism and beauty of his prose. Although it is a little heavy, it can help understand the roots and underlying systemic reasons why certain populations (like African Americans, in this case) have to persevere harder to succeed in this world, why such populations have to push harder, talk louder, and take more risks than others.
Recommended by Dr. Tabitha Kenlon (AUD English faculty member): , Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough (available in print and audio) A delightful coming-of-age memoir from the 1920’s, this book relates the humorous adventures of two young Americans on their first independent trip to Europe. Their escapades will provide some virtual travel for us while we’re in lockdown, as well as some much-needed laughs.
Recommended by Dr. Susan Porterfield: Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte (free kindle version available here) Jane Eyre, despite her status as an orphan, determines to make her own way in the world, and she succeeds wonderfully. She is strong-willed, compassionate, and intelligent. A true heroine in every sense.
Recommended by Dr. Leslie Gardner (literary agent, Artellus ltd.): Elmet, by Fiona Mozley (2017): The story of misfits, brother and sister, in North England, rife with bottled up male feeling and violence–set straight by a stalwart young woman and her ‘different’ brother–the writing itself is stunning, lyrical, rich, and political too.
Recommended by Dr. Hedy Habra: (Pitt Poetry Series 2019) Horsepower “Through tragedy and triumph, Joy Priest’s poems thunder in the ears like a supercharged heartbeat. Her landscapes drawn technicolor, intense with paradox and heat, devotion is indistinguishable from rage. Horsepower seethes with so much intelligence and feeling that comparisons to Hurston are inevitable. Jean Toomer also comes quickly to mind, but Priest’s voice is one of a kind…” –Gregory Pardlo